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India regulator proposes cancelling 62 licences of five new operators

22 ноября 2010

India's telecom regulator proposed cancelling 62 licenses of five telecom operators, including the Indian joint ventures of Telenor ASA, Emirates Telecommunications Corp. and Sistema JSFC as a new crisis looms in a sector that has seen its minister recently resign over allegations he mishandled the allocation of spectrum to new players in January 2008.

India's telecom sector--the second-largest and fastest-growing in the world--has been dogged by allegations of favoritism and manipulation after a government auditor Tuesday condemned the ministry's allocation of mobile telephone spectrum, saying it cost the government $38.9 billion in potential revenue.

The report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India dealt mainly with the Indian telecom department's January 2008 allotment of licenses and bandwidth to 13 companies as radio waves were handed out at rates fixed in 2001, despite India's economic growth in the intervening period.

The 62 licenses proposed to be cancelled by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, or TRAI, belong to the group who were issued licenses in January 2008.

"We have reviewed about 127 licenses and have recommended that some licenses may be cancelled on the ground that either they have not rolled out (mobile phone) services or for improper roll out of services, so that the spectrum can be utilized," a senior official at TRAI told Dow Jones Newswires, asking not to be named.

It's been proposed that licenses be cancelled for the non-roll out of services for Loop Telecom Pvt. Ltd. in 14 service areas; Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt. Ltd. in two service areas; Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd. in 10 service areas and Unitech Wireless Ltd. in eight areas, he said.

The regulator also proposed that 13 licenses of Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt. Ltd.; five of Loop Telecom Pvt. Ltd., and 10 of Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. be cancelled as their roll outs of mobile phone services weren't satisfactory, he added.

The telecom department, the country's telecom licensing authority, will now make a final decision on the recommendations, he said.

TRAI secretary R.K. Arnold confirmed the TRAI proposals, but didn't elaborate.

The regulator's recommendations follow a clause in the telecom licensing conditions that obligates new telecom operators to roll out services in metro areas of Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata within one year of being allocated bandwidth.

In non-metro service areas companies have to ensure that in the first phase of their roll out, they cover at least 10% of district headquarters where bandwidth has been allocated within one year. This extends to 50% within three years.

Unitech Wireless Ltd., a joint venture between India's real estate developer Unitech Ltd., and Telenor ASA, provides cellular services under the Uninor brand name in 13 service areas of the 22 service areas in which it received licenses. It had 13.75 million users at the end of October.

"We have not received any information from TRAI regarding our license in India. Therefore, we can't comment on this matter," Uninor said in an emailed statement

"However, Uninor has launched its services across India...and are a real operator," it said.

The UAE's Emirates Telecommunications Corp. picked up a stake in Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd. to form Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt. Ltd. Etisalat DB Telecom, along with its units, provides services under the Cheers brand in all 15 of the service areas in which it has licenses. It had 70,829 users at the end of October.

Sistema Shyam is 73.71% owned by Russia's Sistema JSFC, with India's Shyam Group holding a stake of about 23.79%. It provides mobile telephone services under the MTS brand in 12 of India's 22 telecom service areas using code division multiple access technology, according to the regulator's website. It has licenses to offer services in all 22 areas.

The company [Sistema Shyam] has complied with all its roll out obligations in all the 22 telecom circles and has already secured over 7 million voice subscribers and over 300,000 data customers," a Sistema Shyam spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Loop Telecom--with just over 3 million users--and Videocon Telecommunications Ltd., a unit of diversified Videocon Industries Ltd., with 5.6 million users, have licenses to offer services across the country, but provide services in seven and 16 service areas respectively.

Loop Telecom declined to comment on the issue, but said it is in compliance with the roll out obligations as specified in the telecom licensing rules.

Источник: Total Telecom

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